‘Truth’ to Appear on MTV Video Music Awards

ATLANTA How can Big Tobacco get more young people to smoke? Shoot a music video. That’s the idea fictional tobacco executives come up with in the latest “Fair Enough” installment of the umbrella “Truth” anti-smoking campaign, scheduled to air this Sunday during the MTV Video Music Awards.

The new sitcom-style commercial, created by Crispin Porter + Bogusky in Miami, and Arnold in Boston, shows a group of executives sitting around a boardroom table discussing ways to reach teenagers with cigarette advertising. They watch a presentation by three junior executives who propose making a music video that includes cigarettes.

The executives suggest a “Madonna-like” video “with high-production value” to air on MTV. The video will replace much of the exposure to teenagers the company lost when the government banned television advertising, they say. They predict that the company will need to order 500,000 copies of the video to meet demand. As in the other ads in the “Fair Enough” series, which was introduced last April, the dialogue is dubbed with audience laughter.

The young executives propose advertising the video using the tagline, “Pop up some corn. Pop open some Camels. Pop in a rocking video.”

The ad, directed by Martin Granger of Moxie Pictures, ends with the tagline, “It would be funnier if it wasn’t true,” and cites a 1989 document about tobacco company marketing ideas as the source of most of the dialogue in the ad.

“We use the tobacco industry’s own language against it,” said Joe Martyak, a representative of the American Legacy Foundation, which sponsors the anti-smoking campaign. “We want to expose their marketing techniques to teens, to arm them with information.”

The foundation buys ad time on the MTV awards program each year, Martyak said. “It’s the ultimate event to have this spot on,” he said. “Music is one of the coins of the realm for teenagers.”

The “Truth” campaign launched in February 2000 as part of the Master Settlement Agreement between Big Tobacco and 46 states attorney generals.